SPOKANE, Wash. — For more than 30 years the Bloomsday runner statues in Riverfront Park have inspired runners not only during the big race, but all year around.

David Govedare, the artist behind the 'Joy of Running Together' art piece modeled each runner after an actual person.

He was able to capture the spirit and the heart of Bloomsday through the creation of 40 life-sized figures, who run along the edge of Riverfront Park near the intersection of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Post Street.

The frontrunner of the art installation is modeled after Bloomsday Founder and Race Director Don Kardong.

Don with statue
Don Kardong next to Bloomsdays runner statue modeled after himself.

Kardong said Govedare went to him with the idea to create a Bloomsday sculpture that featured him.

"I said, if you're going to do a Bloomsday sculpture you'll have to have more than one person in it,” Kardong said.

Kardong admits, at first, he was not too thrilled about being one of the statues.

"I didn't know if being the lead runner in that sculpture was something I really wanted, but it turned out to be fine over time,” Kardong laughed. "I kind of remember when he asked me to lay on a sheet of paper so he could make a drawing around me to use for the cut out of the sculpture."

The sculpture was dedicated to the park in 1985.

Kim Kouns with statue
Kim Kouns stands next to statue inspired by herself.

Kim Kouns was also a model for the art piece. She lived in Spokane for many years before eventually moving to the west of the state. An avid runner, Kouns has participated in 37 Bloomsdays.

'It's wonderful, you know, and that's why it's called the ‘Joy of Running Together’, because it's all about the group, the whole group," Kouns said. "The best part is what a great, great event Bloomsday is year after year."

She said she enjoys taking her family and friends to see the sculptures. Kouns said she will miss this year’s Bloomsday race due to qualifying a rowing competition.

As for Kardong, he is set to retire as race director, but will continue to run the race.

"I plan to, kind of, enjoy Bloomsday and certainly the sculptures for as long as I am around,” Kardong said.

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